Every region in the U.S. has their own version of chilli.
Some people put beans in it. Some leave them out. Some people (those crazy people in that state to the south) serve their chilli over spaghetti noodles! But I’m a Midwest girl. Born and raised (okay you got me..not actually born…born in Texas…but we moved back to Michigan when I was 1 so I don’t really count myself a Texan), and in Michigan, chilli is traditionally made with beans- black, pinto, kidney- whatever you like. They add a heartiness to chilli that is unmistakably midwest.
But let’s face it..
It’s not always…how should I say…convenient? to consume mass quantities of beans….yeah…convenient…that’s the word…Like say for instance when you’re at a tailgate and and you eat a big bowl of chilli and proceed to spend the next four hours in a confined space surrounded by 100,000 people jumping up and down? …not that I’ve ever had that experience…ahem…
In addition to the undesirable side effects of that magical fruit, beans can be problematic for other reasons.
Although we know beans are high in fiber and protein, they do contain a good amount of phytic acid. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that causes you to leach minerals such as copper, zinc, calcium and magnesium. So here’s the thing. I’m not saying one must cut beans out of their diet completely, but they do need to be prepared properly, which involves soaking and/or sprouting, rendering the bean-usage at least a 4 hour (but overnight is better) process. And, you got it- no canned beans. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a busy girl. I got stuff to do okay? And most often, when I’m making a soup or stew (or chilli) for dinner, it’s because I’ve failed to plan for something else and I know I can pull a soup together in a snap. So that means that in all likelihood I haven’t been soaking dried beans overnight. So I just skip them.
But what to replace the heartiness of beans?
Only one thing comes to mind. Sweet Potato! I LOVE sweet potatoes. Aside from being delicious, they’re amazingly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to chilli, because they absorb flavor like a sponge! I used ground beef in this chilli, but the sweet potatoes add so much texture that you could actually omit the beef and you would never miss it. So not only is this a super beefy delicious soup, but it’s equally satisfying for my veg-head friends out there.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- 1 lb of grass fed ground beef (unless you’re making the vegetarian version)
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 medium bell peppers (any color, I used green), diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and medium diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 30 oz (that’s 2 cans) of diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chipotle chilli powder (this is SPICY, so if you don’t like spicy, reduce the amount)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Optional fresh cilantro for garnish
- Heat a dutch oven (or whatever pot you use for soup) over medium high heat on the stovetop. Add the ground beef to the pot and let it brown. Depending on what lean-ness of meat you use, you might need to ditch some of the grease in the pan if that kind of thing bothers you. I’m cool with it so I leave it.
- Add your diced onion, bell pepper, sweet potato and garlic to the pot. Season with sea salt and pepper and let saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
- Add the spices to the pot and stir them around until all of the veggies are coated. Let the mixture saute for about 3 minutes. This is important! Don’t skip this step. You need to let the spices toast, but stir frequently so they don’t burn.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing! Fancy eh?). Those brown bits equal mucho flavor.
- Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and stir everything up. Pop the lid on and bring it up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid cracked for at least 20 minutes, but as long as you like. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Top with chopped fresh cilantro or stir in some plain yogurt to cool it off a bit.
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